Prior to moving to Haywood County, I taught a Junior Achievement Program for eight years while I lived in Iowa. The class I held was with senior high school students in an economics class.
The class gave the student teams the chance to learn and then compete with one another. The teams all competed in the same market, with the same product and were able to make decisions on production, price, capital investment, marketing and research and development.
The value of this one day a week class for six or seven weeks during a semester was — and can be — significant.
JA has a pretty slick system, which allowed me to input their decisions, print out the decision results in class, for them to review and then make another decision gaining knowledge from the negative or positive results of their previous decision. There would, of course, be discussion regarding the results and review of the outcome of their decisions.
Providing students a platform to think about and gain familiarity with terms they hear every day, but may not understand the impact or relevance of was invaluable.
Each week I would share with the class graphs demonstrating the trends and impact of their decisions as an entire class.
It appears the hopes of Junior Achievement coming to Haywood County are quite dim. I have met with the JA representative in Asheville and recently sent an email to the JA president and CEO of JA of Central Carolinas, Sarah Cherne.
“While we do not have a staff person assigned to Haywood at the present time, our team … tried very hard to incite some interest from the schools in Haywood County to deliver JA,” she wrote. “We were not able to move forward as the schools apparently, were not interested in our curriculum being delivered in their classrooms.”
I received a promotional email from JA in December, asking for support and or funding for the JA program. As I have reached out to JA in Asheville, previously, I felt the next step was the person who sent the email, Ms. Cherne. I expressed my feelings regarding the promotion of the program as a revenue promoting exercise, rather than extolling the value and virtues of the program.
Ms. Cherne’s email response continues:
“Please know I agree with your statement below regarding fundraising; however, it is important that you understand that JA is a business, and as such, must raise funds to support the operation of our program much like another other successful business. We are also strategic in our delivery of program as we must train and vet all volunteers to ensure proper program delivery. This takes time, investment and a staff person. With no money, I can’t supply any of these items to ensure quality and support. Given all of the above, this has not been a priority county for us to pursue.”
It would be different if I or any of the other JA volunteers were looking for compensation. Those JA volunteers who I have spent time, find satisfaction in sharing their experience and time, expecting nothing in return, only the satisfaction of having made a difference.
It would be my wish others in Haywood County support the JA Program as an asset. I’m retired now, although for the last eight years I have been teaching and continue to be an adjunct lecturer at the University of Iowa’s Business College, involved in teaching a class on Global Trade online. I am sure there are a number of other professionals in Haywood County passionate about sharing their knowledge and experience. At least I hope so.